Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Angels We Have Heard

A friend listened to me recently about my new living circumstances, how hard it is to sit with the quiet at night, my children enjoying a movie and popcorn in their home across town. The sound of the stillness creeps in like a truck in the distance until it roars with thoughts of regret and uncertainty. The urge is overwhelming to find distraction, go out into the world to sing and dance at the first party I can find.

Heartfelt compassion poured out of her in response, words of advice, comfort and wisdom that ignited knowledge just beneath the surface of my own heart. An inner voice has been whispering to me without articulation each night as I have stood still with my feelings of loneliness and discomfort, near Depression.

Then she laughed.

“I don’t know where this comes from” she said, “But someone who was really close to you wants you to know.”

Several years ago, this woman suffered the impossible loss of her only child. In addition to bearing her grief, she has become a beacon to others about how to move forward with pain. In no extraordinary or “Twilight Zone” way, she simply knows her daughter’s spirit is present, vital and very much alive. And talking to her, it is very easy to believe it too.

Be patient, she said. Trust that this is a time to quietly know yourself. Feel your pain and discomfort, be tender and caring to yourself. The lessons will have to be learned, and distractions only put them off. Listen to your own voice, learn and love who you really are. Move through this time with clarity, sit with patience, like a warrior.

“So this is not me talking,” she said with a smile, “Is there anybody you know who could be wanting you to hear this?”

Already, I had been thinking of my Uncle Bill, a mischievous man absolutely full of the joy in life, who died several years ago at 74, on his motorcycle returning from his beloved softball games. Often, we are compared by many who have known us, and confused by my mother in her dreamlike state. Each of us with hearts of gold, arms embracing, willing to give all we have, each of us has been humbled by some inherent flaw to under-achieve.

Bill’s route, when depression took hold, was to find his cave in Florida, far from family. Unreachable, he checked in occasionally with my mother by pay phone. It took a long time for his daughters to find him again emotionally. Earning a small living as an umpire, he had his room, his motorcycle, and, as we discovered upon his death, he had accumulated a wealth of family and friends who loved him.

The spirits of several men come to mind at certain times. On the edge of a steep and challenging ski slope, too tired, I think, to make it safely down, I draw upon the lessons of my friend Milt who patiently taught a petrified 12 year old that you could ski hard and fast at any age. Only 8 when he died, I play golf with my grandfather beside me on every swing because that is what we did together; that, and a roadside burger and milkshake are the best signs that all is well in my world.

Death takes people away from us in one way and gives them back in another. You do not have to see the spirit on this woman’s shoulder to know her daughter is there. She is just so brilliant, confident and peaceful that the question evaporates.

Then suddenly, after writing all this, I realize, her daughter and my uncle died within weeks of each other. From each of our shoulders, they must be having a good old laugh.

Life goes on.

Please share with your friends


Anonymous said...

From the tone of your post I take it you are "single again", not necessarily by choice.

I was single-again for 14 years from my first wife. I was sad and depressed at first, then lived life and kept my relationship with my daughters alive. Sounds like your kids still live in the same town, for that be very thankful.

Eventually I found someone else to share my life with, but I had to find happiness with myself first.

It gets better, takes time that's all.


Anonymous said...

Oh, depression is hard. My father's been depressed for almost 5 decades. When you mentioned Bill and the cave in Florida, all you have to to is change to 'B' to a "Ph' and you could have been talking about my dad.

TheElementary said...

"You do not have to see the spirit on this woman’s shoulder to know her daughter is there." This is so wise and hopeful.
We are sometimes gripped by unimaginable sadness and feeling of pointlessness. It's part of being human and being part of the world. It passes, comes round again, passes again. It goes on, always does. We enjoy the moments in between, the few moments that aren't painful.

"I play golf with my grandfather beside me on every swing because that is what we did together; that, and a roadside burger and milkshake are the best signs that all is well in my world." Absolutely heartbreaking words you wrote there. Hopefully you'll find comfort in those moments.

Kip de Moll said...

Thanks for the condolance, and it is all about hearing my own voice for a little while, solving some internal dilemmas--Zen and the Art of the Midlife Crisis!

I'm not depressed yet, just working on avoiding it.

those moments remembering my grandfather and our enjoyments of burgers are good memories. He's with me when I eat one now.

robin andrea said...

This is beautiful, heartfelt writing. Very moving and compelling. I do not know if there are angels, but I do know that we all share the same grief and pain. We recognize each other, kindred spirits in loss. We try to make meaning out of it all, and sometimes, if we are very quiet and very lucky, we do.